Large Kangxi triple gourd blue and white “Dragoon Vase”. The gracefully formed vase is decorated with a brilliant blue glazed decoration depicting strapwork and floral reserves on the top section, large rampant dragons on a flowering vine field on the middle section and large peonies, small dragons and round reserves on the lower section. The piece is marked underneath with the “double ring” sometimes found on Kangxi wares. [An old ormoulu mount on the top, possibly from the eighteenth century, mimics the original form and decoration of the vase.]
The name “dragoon vase” (dragonervasen) reflects the curious history of the acquisition of this type of monumental porcelain. In 1717, Augustus the Strong gave 600 soldiers from his army to King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, who formed the soldiers into a new regiment of dragoons. In return, Augustus received from Friedrich Wilhelm 151 mostly large-scale vases and bowls from the Oranienburg and Charlottenburg palaces. This was the era of mercenary soldiering, when the practice of selling and hiring out of troops was widespread, especially among German princes. This was the case of the Hessians in the American War of Independence who were beaten by George Washington at Trenton.
Vases of this type from the royal collection are to be found in the Dresden Porzellansammlung in the Staatliche Museum.
Ex Collection: Mrs. Henry Walters; Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 4/26/41. Nº 253